January 9, 2023|By Ellen O'Shea

Dr. Tito Bonano is one of the experts affiliated with NAC’s network of nuclear industry consultants; find out more here.

It’s hard to imagine taking on an issue of global significance like radioactive waste disposal from a modest home in suburban Albuquerque, New Mexico, but that’s exactly what Tito Bonano has done. He lives and works as a consultant there, following a career at Sandia National Laboratories where he played a key role in U.S. efforts to address the country’s radioactive waste challenge. But for Bonano, this wasn’t just a job; it was a passion – one that changed the direction of his life, and one that still spurs him on today.

After first coming to New Mexico in 1979, Bonano had promised his wife they would return to their native Puerto Rico. But that didn’t happen as career opportunities to follow his passion began to unfold. Bonano is an expert in the behavior of mixtures of liquids, solids and gases – known as Multi-Phase Flow. Managing those factors alone is a challenge, but when radioactive waste is in these forms, the challenges increase dramatically.

From a design perspective these are big issues, Bonano points out, explaining all sorts of effects occur across temperature ranges. But Bonano was well-positioned in this discipline well before he began addressing radioactive waste issues. Multi-Phase Flow captivated him as a graduate student in chemical engineering at Clarkson University after his undergraduate chemical engineer degree at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. He went on from there to work on these issues in paper and pulp manufacturing. The radioactive waste challenge came soon after when the chance arose to join Sandia National Laboratories.

Eventually leading Sandia’s Nuclear Energy Fuel Cycle Program, which he did for more than a decade, Bonano directed programs on small modular reactors; advanced energy conversion systems; fuel cycle systems engineering and analysis; storage, transportation, and disposal of nuclear waste; and advanced modelling and simulation, as well as safety analysis for nuclear space launch missions. Areas addressed by the program included R&D on applied technology to find solutions to technical and safety issues associated with the use of radioactive materials in nuclear fuel cycles, including their storage, transportation, and disposal.

A strong mindset as a ‘stickler’ stood Bonano in good stead. “I play by the book all the time,” he says, explaining that he took fiduciary responsibilities and custody of taxpayer money “extremely seriously.” It’s the kind of approach that makes a good fit with highly regulated nuclear work. And the ‘stickler’ tag was affectionately applied by Dr. James Peery, SNL’s Director, when nominating Bonano for the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020 for Great Minds in STEM, given at the Hispanic Engineer Achievement Award Conference (HENAAC).

“You have to try to do the right thing,” says Bonano, “regardless of what the consequences may be.” That means applying a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, as well as being “sure not to mix friendships with responsibilities.” That doesn’t mean friends are not allowed – Bonano has them everywhere at every level. But by being a stickler for the right thing, “You may lose here or there, but you will come out on top in the end.”

Don’t let his rule on friendships fool you – people and relationships have always been key to Bonano’s career. Without the mentorship of Dr. Jim Davis, his graduate school advisor, he would not have come to specialize in multi-phase flow or taken a role at Sandia.

“As a manager I always tried to surround myself with the best people I could get, give them the resources they need to get the job done, and then get out of the way,” he said. “Then give credit when they deliver the goods.”

People come first in client relationships, too. “You need to understand your customers,” says Bonano, “I do the homework up front because I want to understand who I'm talking to.” That same over-arching principle applies to nuclear waste management itself. “The social aspect of nuclear waste management is the toughest problem,” he says. “The technical problem is comparatively easier.”

He should know. With a key role in the former Yucca Mountain project Bonano oversaw the submission of a repository application that was approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, only for it to be cancelled for political reasons.

But all that work stands on record and that’s why Bonano says, “Three to five years from now someone is going to solve this problem, and I will have contributed to it.” Thinking of his family, including three grandsons, he adds: “I want to make sure that we address climate change and how can I contribute. I want to see somebody put some waste in the ground.”

November 3, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

In an advertorial in the September issue of Nuclear Engineering International, NAC International took time to explain the utility of its OPTIMUS packaging system, including its potential uses for important new high assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuels, used in most advanced reactors.

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October 31, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

Hitachi Zosen Corporation, parent company of NAC International Inc., and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) established a joint venture (JV) for production of used fuel storage and transportation cask systems.

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October 6, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

NAC International was proud to provide sponsorship support for the 42nd Annual International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR), held this week in Vienna, Austria on Oct. 3-5, 2022.  This program develops technology necessary to enable the conversion of civilian facilities using high enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuels and targets and has been responsible for the safe removal and repatriation of over 7,000 kg of weapons-grade HEU material since its inception in 1978. The RERTR meeting is organized by the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

October 3, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

In September 2022, NAC added to its lengthy history of successful radioactive materials transportation with its initial domestic commercial shipment using OPTIMUS®-L packaging. Recently added to NAC’s available fleet of transport casks, the OPTIMUS-L was used to execute a legal weight waste shipment originating in Massachusetts with receipt in Texas. OPTIMUS packagings are capable of transporting a wide array of radioactive materials, equipment, wastes,  fresh fuels, and spent fuels of various activities. 

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July 21, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

Peachtree Corners, GA - July 21, 2022 - NAC International announced today it has received a patent on the manufacturing method for its OPTIMUS transportation cask from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. NAC’s OPTIMUS, which is short for OPTImal Modular Universal Shipping cask technology, is designed for optimal versatility and economics for transporting radioactive waste material.

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May 25, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

Three days of comprehensive training on spent fuel storage were held April 26-28 in Atlanta at the NAC Spent Fuel Academy.

Led by the experts of NAC International, the first two days of the seminar provided instruction on the science and technology underlying the dry storage and transportation of spent nuclear fuel – from the manufacturing of the casks through licensing and operation as well as transportation. The third day covered QA program considerations and performance-based manufacturing oversight of dry cask storage systems. 

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May 13, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea
Look at the past, present and future of NAC International used nuclear fuel management in this video we showed at NEI's Used Fuel Management Conference last week. 

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April 22, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

The first NAC International training event to welcome attendees in person since the start of the covid pandemic, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Seminar looked in detail at nuclear power and nuclear fuel both globally and in current U.S. market contexts.

From April 4-7 in Atlanta, NAC International consultants brought the attendees up to speed on the latest developments in policy, regulation, economics, and technology that are shaping nuclear professionals’ work and responsibilities in terms of nuclear fuel and spent fuel management. 

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April 1, 2022|By Ellen O'Shea

NAC International released a special report March 28 that looks at the impacts of Russian sanctions on nuclear fuel markets. This report is available as part of NAC’s annual Nuclear Fuel Market Issues & Insights market report.

The reaction by the international community to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been swift and includes a wide array of sanctions against Russia targeting banks, oil refineries, military exports, and oil and gas exports. There is a growing pressure to expand sanctions to include Russia’s nuclear fuel exports. Russia may also impose a ban on its nuclear fuel exports. As Russia is a major supplier of nuclear fuel, any governmental actions to restrict Russia’s nuclear fuel exports has the potential to significantly impact the nuclear fuel markets. 

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